Summer is an off time to discuss bull data. However, the American Shorthorn Association’s e-newsletter arrived last week with some good, no great news. In an article, the association says it has released the new "fall multi-breed EPD's" (expected progeny differences) compiled from the new Multi-breed Genetic Evaluation.

I immediately pulled up the Shorthorn website (http://www.shorthorn.org/) to see what was happening. In the article it says, “These EPDs were calculated by the American Simmental Association as part of their multi-breed genetic evaluation. The entire set of EPDs are now on the same ‘base’ as Simmental, Red Angus, Gelbvieh and a growing number of other breeds.”

This concept of data sharing or data comingling facilities efficient bull selection and adds a simpler tool to the commercial producer’s toolbox for bull selection. I realize that there is and always will be a certain amount of competitiveness among the beef breeds.

Anyone that has been involved in the beef industry will realize that the industry is segmented, so shuffling among those segments is one of the challenges astute beef producers need to master. It may be unfortunate, but one would say such competition keeps the team sharp. To be on the team, there is no room for error.

Likewise, with the amount of effort and personal dedication that is needed to produce beef, certainly an individual beef producer has the right to decide in what segment or segments he or she wants to participate. However, producers need to make an effort to understand the entire beef business, not just the chosen segments.

The breeds represent various segments of the beef industry and are very effective working units within the cow-calf segment of the industry. In reality, the commercial cow-calf producer knits together the genetics of the beef herd and associated breeding programs that often supplement the marketing aspects of what the producer chooses to sell.

Again, this is an individual decision. Regardless of what segment a beef producer may wish to be affiliated with, all cow-calf segments need to focus on producing calves that fit and ultimately serve the segments. These calves form the product and are marketed.

Why the smile when the American Shorthorn Association released their new EPD’s? The Dickinson Research Extension Center utilizes several breeds of bulls to produce a product that capitalizes on genetic selection and the benefits of crossbreeding.

The center is utilizing Shorthorn genetics, along with Simmental, Red Angus and Gelbvieh. The center utilizes additional breeds, but this particular news event allows the center to better understand how our Shorthorn bull fits with the other three breeds.

Historically, the center does a quick check by evaluating EPDs for birth weight (BW), weaning weight (WW), yearling weight (YW), milk, marbling (Marb) and rib-eye area (REA). Bulls that fit the center’s breeding objectives are selected and utilized.

Using the older Shorthorn EPD values, bull x4190244 could not be evaluated very effectively, compared with the Simmental, Red Angus and Gelbvieh genetics.

The bull’s old values were minus 0.1 for BW, 16 for WW, 30 for YW, 1 for milk, 0.04 for Marb and 0.06 for REA. These values were valuable in purchasing a Shorthorn bull, but left the center with questions on how the bull would do compared with other genetics that the center uses.

The new EPD values for bull x4190244 are 1.3 for BW, 60 for WW, 76 for YW, 23 for milk, 0.16 for Marb and 0.07 for REA. The bull ranks in the upper 30 percent or greater in all traits except REA. For REA value, the bull ranks in the upper 40 percent.

However, now the center knows how the Shorthorn bulls fit in without having to spend time and money to wait out the long process of progeny testing.

The center’s typical Red Angus bulls have an EPD value for WW of 60, Simmental bulls 78, Gelbvieh bulls 62 and now the center’s Shorthorn bulls have a WW of 60.

One could list all the traits, but a quick look puts the center’s Red Angus and Simmental bulls with greater YW EPDs and the Shorthorn and Gelbvieh bulls with greater milk EPDs.

Data is important in the beef business, so a thank you is in order to the Shorthorn Association for its progressive data move. By expanding effective data usage, commercial beef production benefits.

May you find all your ear tags.